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BOSTON — As a veteran of the American League East Division and thus a frequent visitor to Fenway Park, Kevin Gausman appreciates the nuances of the historic and beloved stadium.

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And he also knows the surest sign of all, that a starting pitcher has gotten off to a good start, he’s late in the ballgame when the sounds of Neil Diamond cascade over the outfield.

“I was joking with the guys that if you’re still in the game and they’re singing Sweet Caroline You did something right in the eighth inning,” the Blue Jays right-hander said after a brilliant afternoon. “It’s funny, that’s what I remember the last time I pitched really well here, being outside while they sang that song,
“It’s such a special place…obviously the history. Fenway is in its own category.”

Gausman, who spent more than five seasons with the Baltimore Orioles to begin his major league career, was in his own elite dominance in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 win over the Red Sox, going more than eight scoreless innings. allow a run.
He was so efficient that he got a chance to serve the Blue Jays’ first nine-inning complete game since April 23, 2017 because, yes, when the chant started at Fenway in the middle of the eighth, he was still in the game.

But after Gausman gave up a leadoff single to Trevor Story to start the ninth, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo jumped off the visitors’ bench and called out Jordan Romano to close it out.

The birthday boy from Markham, Ontario did just that, but not before giving up a pair of Red Sox runs to propel the Boston faithful into an all-out frenzy and then secure his MLB-leading seventh save.

Good thing he did, protecting the sensational outing of Gausman, who became the first starter to pitch into the ninth inning this MLB season and provided rather emphatic validation early in the season to the five-year, $110 million contract. dollars he signed as a free agent in December.

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“He was amazing. That’s an ace for you,” Montoyo said. “Against a lineup of good hitters, that (splitter) was nasty, putting in all his pitches, throwing strikes. We needed a start like that and he gave it to us.”

The win allowed the Blue Jays to win two of three against the Red Sox and Montoyo’s 8-5 club has yet to lose a series this season (3-0-1).

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Obviously, Gausman would have preferred to stay in the full game, but he says he understands his manager’s decision.

“I have the best closer in baseball waiting for me,” Montoyo said. “It’s not fair to me to bring Romano with two in Boston.”

Fair enough, though it would have been entertaining to see Gausman get his shot at a feat that’s all too rare these days of analytics-driven baseball.

Signed ostensibly to replace 2021 Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, Gausman pitched eight scoreless innings for the fourth time in his career. The most memorable of them, coincidentally, was here in the land of the Green Monster five years ago when he allowed just four hits in the Orioles’ 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.

It was a career highlight that he now has some company as the Blue Jays’ rotation begins to pick up a bit of momentum. With his teammates posting double plays, Gausman had thrown just 72 pitches in seven comfortable innings and felt strong late into the afternoon.

“In my mind, that was my game, so I would go out in the ninth to get all three outs,” said Gausman, whose only complete game in the majors dates back to 2014. “That was my goal. “Obviously it was a good first pitch for Story and he hit it the other way. That could easily have been a groundout to shortstop and I’m still in the game.

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“I would have loved to stay, but at the same time if we’re up 5-0, I think I’d probably stay in that game. Being that it’s three runs … listen, in the AL East, three runs can be cut in half real quick.”

As Romano and the nervous Jays would soon learn. A walk to Rafael Devers was followed by a double by Xander Bogaerts to score Story. Then a groundout by Alex Verdugo brought home Devers and suddenly the tying run was on third and the morning crowd of 35,792 was at full throats.

“Playing here is never easy to win,” said Romano, who celebrated his 29th birthday and has now converted a club-record 30 consecutive save opportunities. “Maybe there was some extra adrenaline. I didn’t throw the best I could, but I just went out there, did the job and we ended up with the win.

“(Gausman) was unpleasant. He was throwing a lot of strikes, the splitter was working, and he was being the ace.”
The win, combined with a Yankees loss in Detroit, restored sole possession of first place in the AL East as the Blue Jays traveled to Houston for a three-game weekend series against the Astros.

“We just hope to win every day,” Gausman said like an ace. “These young men who come to the stadium with some attitude, some life, some swagger. It’s great.

“We feel confident in any series we play and we match up really well against whoever we’re playing.”
Especially with an ace in waiting dealing like Gausman did in one of his baseball happy places.

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